Home / Arts & Life / Protesters Outside ‘Julius Caesar’ in Central Park, and Laughs Inside

Protesters Outside ‘Julius Caesar’ in Central Park, and Laughs Inside

Mary Andrews, 59, of Manhattan, who was hoping for a standby ticket — standby lines were closed because of the disruption Friday — was wondering where the backlash had been when another American production of “Julius Caesar,” in 2012 in Minneapolis, depicted Caesar as President Barack Obama.


Before the production Saturday night, audience members were invited onto the stage to add a message to a poster reading: “I mourn for” and “I hope for.”

Emily Palmer/The New York Times

“I tried to be as polite as I could be without too much snark,” she said of her interaction with the protesters. “But I don’t think I succeeded in that.”

“Julius Caesar resembled Barack Obama that time,” she said of the previous production. “They have a right to protest, but why weren’t they upset about the black man being killed on stage? Why wasn’t that problematic for them?”

Jim MacDonald said he had been protesting since Friday night. He held a sign that read “Boo the Cast” and “Shut It Down.”

“Everybody knows deep down that this is a play that celebrates the assassination of Donald Trump,” Mr. MacDonald said.

One of the protesters on Friday night, Laura Loomer, 24, was arrested. The New York Police Department said she had been charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct and was released.

“I believe that Laura Loomer last night is the most heroic woman of the year,” Mr. MacDonald said. “She shut the play down and didn’t know what would happen to her.”

Petra Kelly-Voicu, 21, and Karolina Wnorowska, 22, both of Queens, said that they had arrived at 3 a.m. Saturday with sleeping bags just to secure a spot in the audience. “We slept here,” Ms. Kelly-Voicu, 21, said with a laugh.

“We wanted to see the play anyway but were putting it off, but then the controversy made me more interested,” said Ms. Wnorowska.

“I don’t know how we can support someone like that,” Ms. Wnorowska said of Mr. Trump. “There’s a lot of overreaction from conservatives.”

Inside the theater, the production began shortly before 8:15. Just minutes later, three theater staff members rushed toward the stage to inspect an audience member, then left.

Otherwise, the show took a self-aware bent and was filled with often-lighthearted political jokes. “Who is it in the press that calls on me?” Julius Caesar cried out to great laughs. And the audience booed when a character who represented an adviser was introduced. At one point, actors came out with protest signs and exclaimed, “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!”

More laughter swelled when Caesar appeared sitting in a footed tub, smoking a cigar and typing on his phone, and again when the character playing his wife stepped into the tub, seducing him with a Russian accent.

Before the production, a more reflective tone had been sought. Audience members were invited onto the stage to add a message to a poster reading “I mourn for” and “I hope for.”

People added words like, I mourn for: “innocents lost,” “Manchester,” “Brett” and “Apathy, Enemy of Democracy”; and I hope for: “Paris accord,” “a better life for my sister” and “unconditional love, including self-love.”

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